Using Sports Against the Italian Mafia: Policies and Challenges on the Path of Cultural Renewal

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Baris CayliUniversity of Stirling

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This study addresses the role and policies of Libera Sport, an Italian nongovernmental civil society organization that fights against the Italian mafia groups through sports. On the one hand, this article reinterprets and applies the cultural hegemony theory of Antonio Gramsci both to the Mafia and Libera Sport. On the other hand, habitus and cultural capital notions of Pierre Bourdieu are used to express the struggle between the Mafia and Libera Sport. This study demonstrates how the Mafia and anti-Mafia movement intersect in the “accumulation of actions” and create the “clash of habitus”. I argue that Libera Sport can realize its goals only if the clash of habitus is terminated by demolishing the institutionalized cultural capital of the Mafia and constituting its own cultural capital, which has not yet been institutionalized. During this reformative process, sports become a significant complementary anti-Mafia policy tool.

Cayli is with the University of Stirling, Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, School of Applied Social Science, Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom.

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